Shakopee students who chose the “in-person, hybrid and distance learning” — or IHD — option for this school year will start this fall in the hybrid model under a recommendation from Superintendent Mike Redmond. The Shakopee School Board approved the recommendation at its meeting Monday, Aug. 24, with Vice Chair Judi Tomczik and Chair Kristi Peterson voting against it.
The decision follows state recommendations released last month, which are modeled after COVID-19 case numbers at any given time in each district’s county. According to information in the superintendent's recommendation, there were 24.83 cases per 10,000 residents in Scott County between July 26 and Aug. 8. As that number changes, the district’s learning model could change with it.
Remond said the recommendation aligns with current data regarding the number of local COVID-19 cases and could change if the data ticks upward as the start of the school year draws near.
The state offered the following recommendations for the reopening of schools based on the new virus cases per 10,000 people in the county:
- 0 to 9 new cases per 10,000: In-person learning for all students.
- 10 to 19 new cases per 10,000: In-person learning for elementary, hybrid for secondary.
- 20 to 29 new cases per 10,000: Hybrid learning for all students.
- 20 to 39 new cases per 10,000: Hybrid learning for elementary, distance for secondary.
- 40 to 49 new cases per 10,000: Distance learning for all age levels.
"I think this has been an item we’ve been studying, digging into, really since the middle of March," Redmond said during Monday's school board meeting about what the fall school year would look like.
Shakopee’s hybrid learning model will operate under a five-day learning cycle, meaning students in hybrid learning would attend school on an A/B schedule Monday, Wednesday, Friday one week, and Tuesday and Thursday the following week.
Middle schools will move from a seven-period schedule to a four-period block schedule to keep smaller groups together as much as possible on the days when students are in school. The hybrid learning block schedules will also be shortened to give teachers more time to prepare.
For secondary students, a distance learning day of the hybrid model will include more self-paced options such as watching pre-recorded lessons, research and meeting and collaborating with other students virtually on projects. Elementary students who are on a distance learning day will participate in a synchronous learning session with the students who are in-person that day, on top of other independent projects and lessons.
Kindergarteners will still attend school in person full-time under the hybrid learning model.
The traditional grading system will look a bit different next year. For middle school students, report cards will have A, B, C, “P” for pass or “NI” for “Needs Improvement.” High school students will have similar grades: A, B, C, P, “Incomplete” or “no grade.”
Incomplete students will be given an additional two weeks to complete their work and gain graduation credits.
Thul said earlier this month that there is “no perfect schedule,” but that offering more in-person learning for students is the most equitable option, citing access to meal plans and technology as a few examples.
“There’s pros and cons to every schedule, but this is the one that gives kids the most in-person time,” Thul said. “So for me, that’s what I think is one of the most important rationals.”
Redmond has said another advantage of this model is smaller in-person class sizes, which will be around 16 students per class instead of 32 students to allow for more social distancing.